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A group of 19 social entrepreneurs and leaders, focused on improving health in the region, convened in Costa Rica at INCAE Business School, to strengthen their leadership and innovation skills, and launching the 6th edition of CAHI Fellows Program, which has been implemented by the CAHI (Central American Healthcare Initiative) since 2012.

Each one of these social change agents is developing a project to improve medical attention or otherwise create a positive impact on the health of the populations in Central America. A multidisciplinary group of ten women and nine men from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama is committed to the transformation of their communities, through innovative initiatives that promote health and wellness.

Through the program, the participants establish valuable relationships, strengthen their shared commitments, and develop a strategic vision about the health challenges in the region.

“The best part of this program is the opportunity to learn about other cultures and the health system in all the countries represented in CAHI. I can see the contrast between Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, although we are in the same region. We are very similar people, and we face almost the same problems, but at the same time, we have significant differences in our social realities.” (Gabrielle Sauceda – CAHI Fellow, Honduras).

The participants were welcomed by Octavio Martinez, Director of the Latin-American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (CLACDS by its initials in Spanish) of the INCAE Business School, and academic co-director of CAHI Fellows Program, who emphasized the relevance of this alliance between CLACDS and CAHI which is in its sixth year, and the high level of commitment asked of the new group.

The CAHI Executive Director, Shivaugn Ahern, talked about the importance of cooperation and mutual support among the participants as a key to the success of the training process and the successful development of the projects, highlighting the role of the CAHI Fellows network, which currently counts more than 100 members in the region.

“We recognize and celebrate the strong commitment of each one of the CAHI Fellows. They are motivated to create a positive change in their spheres of influence in the region and that motivation drives them to invest their time and energy in the development of their project management and leadership skills, to make the most of the CAHI Fellows scholarship opportunity.” (Shivaugn Ahern).

Luis Figueroa, INCAE professor, academic co-director of the CAHI Fellows Program and supervisor of the CAHI Fellows’ projects, discussed the rigorous nature of the academic program and the high standard of commitment that the learning process demands to ensure successful implementation of innovative projects in health.

The five-days agenda was filled with interactive experiences and technical workshops about leadership, health systems and determinants of health in Central America, project management, entrepreneurship, and innovation. The agenda also included a networking session to promote the linkages among CAHI Fellows of different generations to strengthen the CAHI Fellows network.

“The best part of this experience is the connection with classmates. There has been an exciting, dynamic and good understanding among the CAHI Fellows. Knowing that people like these are developing initiatives in the health area is very stimulating. These days have been intensive, the hours of the day are not enough, but it is very reinforcing, and the reward is great.”

(Victor Juárez – CAHI Fellow, Guatemala).

The professors in charge of the program from CLACDS – INCAE, have deep experience and are highly regarded in their fields: María Elena Carballo (PhD in Literature, Fulbright Scholar), Roy Zúñiga (PhD in Engineering and Business Administration), Luis Figueroa (PhD in Entrepreneurship), Álvaro Salas (Medical Doctor and Former President of Health Social Services in Costa Rica), Alcira Castillo (Professor and Researcher at the University of Costa Rica, and consultant to WHO and PAHO), Francisco Pérez (Mentor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Director of the Latin-American Center of Innovation), and Carlos Aguirre (Consultant and Coach).

“For us at CAHI, it is an honor to work in collaboration with this community of social change agents, who do not accept the status quo, who tirelessly work to achieve a Central America with less inequality, more equity and better access to health services for the entire population.” (Shivaugn Ahern).

CAHI has a clear vision and profound commitment: to connect and strengthen a multidisciplinary network of leaders, who are working together with the best management techniques and tools, to achieve equity in the access to health care in Central America.

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